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Hero or Shero

I keep hearing people talking about  being a hero or shero. I had never heard the word hero until a few months ago. Is it a necessary word?

Before I start this blog I want to make it clear that I believe in equality. I believe men and women are equal, that they have strengths and weaknesses and that for the most part they complement each other. I also believe that throughout time women have been dominated by the patriarchy. Intelligent, opinionated women have been branded as witches, crazy and trouble causers. 

History really has been His-story. 

 

When we think about the key characters from the past there are very few women.

As a teacher I loved to highlight women in history but they weren’t included in the curriculum when I was teaching.

I have been trying to think how many women I learned about at school, or indeed taught about at school, this is the list I could recall: Boudica, Florence Nightingale, Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, Anne Frank and the wives of Henry VIII (who, as anyone who has seen the musical SIX will know, are only famous for being married to a king and we know very little about as women).

I can’t even begin to list all the men we learn about.

Does this mean that women haven’t contributed anything to our advancement? 

Absolutely not. 

The woman pictured above is Hedy Lamarr. She was a beautiful actress. She was also an incredible scientist who developed a radio guidance system without which we may never have developed bluetooth or wifi technologies. She died in 2000 and wasn’t recognised for her contributions to science until she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

The film “Hidden Figures” highlighted the story of the the female mathematicians and engineers working at NASA in the 1960s without whom the moon landing may never have happened. 

There are countless examples of women having a massive impact but many we are only just learning about now as people sign deep into history to unearth these amazing contributors.

We need to be teaching our children and ourselves, about these key female figures. Young girls need to be shown these role models to help them to see that they can achieve anything boys can. This article from The Guardian in 2017 shows that we may be making headway in the equality stakes but we still have a long way to go. 

We have to show our girls and young women that they have just as many opportunities and they are equal to their male counterparts. However, equality is what I would love to see achieved. I don’t want women to have a greater chance of getting a job, being paid more etc, just to be given the same chances a man would.

Equally I don’t feel that words which are coming into common usage such as “Shero” and “Herstory” are necessary.  I can see how the words hero and history can be seen to be male focused but creating another feminine equivalent seems unnecessary. Let’s just claim the words as our own. The same way we now have actors rather than actors and actresses. Let’s just have heroes and know that women can definitely be heroes. Let’s start discovering more women who had an impact historically. Let’s learn more about people like Anne Boleyn and make them real women with personalities, hopes and dreams, not just “wife of Henry VIII”.

Most importantly, let’s make sure that future history books are filled with women doing amazing things. Women inventing things, changing the world for the better. 

We don’t need men to stop achieving, to step back. We have always been equal in reality. Working together is the answer. Helping each other, supporting each other. Men and women can change the world for the better, together. They can be paid the same amount for doing the same job. They can be given equal opportunities, equal benefits. Men should be able to take extended paternity leave, they should be able to go home if their kids are sent home from school ill, just as women do. It should be up to the individual family to decide who takes on these roles, not some ancient belief. 

The right to choose

It is all about choice. We have to stop shaming women for not being ambitious too. Choosing to stay at home and care for your children is just as challenging and valuable as going out and earning a fortune or inventing something life changing. We all deserve to be happy. To make our own decisions. All we need is for the world to provide equal opportunities for everyone; male, female, old, young, black, white, artistic, scientific…

We are all people. We all have a role to play. We change the world every single day, just by being in it. We impact others every day.

Whether we are heroes because we visit an elderly neighbour, or because we discover a cure to a terrible disease, we are all heroes. Whether you are happy with being a hero or shero. If you like to be an entrepreneur or a mumpreneur. Whether you are happier reading History or Herstory.

Be yourself.

Be the best you that you can be.

Be your own hero or shero but be happy.

 

Be the change

As the new year approaches it is always good to take time to reflect on the change in your life over the previous year. Every new year brings change and we all start to focus on the what we would like to have achieved by the end of the coming year.

There is something in the air as we approach the new year, we are all filled with hope that any challenges we have faced during the previous year will pass and better things lie ahead. It is the perfect time to sit and take stock and check in with our progress towards our dreams and make sure we are still on track.

Those of you who know me will know that I LOVE planning. I love everything about it; the dreaming, the possibilities, the challenge and of course the stationery! But this year I am planning big changes.

When it comes to planning I’m old school. 

I like a notebook and pen. I use an electronic diary so that I can sync my diary with my husband. He is also self employed so work routine is not something we understand! Everything else is done on paper. 

I know it’s old school but there is solid scientific evidence that our brains process writing and work on paper differently to the way it processes screens, and it works so much better for me, it’s so much more flexible. Paper also allows your mind to wander and it lets you tap into your unconscious more I find. 

At this time of year I use dotted paper and various pencils and pens to plan. I plan everything I intend to create and achieve in the coming year. I sit and reflect, I breathe deeply and allow my intuition to take over and make sure that everything I plan feels right. It is so important that everything we do adds to our happiness and contentment. If something doesn’t feel right then there is a reason for that. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t a worthy cause, it  certainly doesn’t mean that it is something that shouldn’t be done, but maybe someone else needs to do it. We can’t do everything after all.

 I also like to take the time to look back on everything I have created and achieved over the previous year. This year however, I went a step further and looked back over everything I have achieved over the last 10 years.   

Wow! What a change!    

In 2009 I had a newborn, I was just doing all my Reiki training, I had been self employed as a childminder but hadn’t started any of the work I am doing now. When I stop and look at all the work I have done, both with individuals and schools over the last decade I am genuinely shocked. When 2010 started only a couple of years had passed since my tumour surgery, I was just starting having my injections to control my acromegaly and I had spent most of my recovery pregnant and caring for a baby. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to function fully as a mum let alone run two businesses. 

Why not take a few minutes to think about everything you have achieved over the last decade?  

Grab a notebook or piece of paper and write down everything you have done, holidays you have had, friends you have made, all your professional achievements, all your personal achievements… You will be amazed at everything that has changed over the last decade.  

One thing is for sure. The coming year, and indeed decade, have the power to be whatever you make them. We can decide that this is going to be our best year ever. Why wouldn’t it be? We can get up every morning determined to make the most of every minute. Choose to be kind and thoughtful. Be dedicated to making the world we live in a better place in whatever small way we can. You don’t need to have money to change the world. Maybe you help someone out, pay someone a compliment or just smile at them.

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.

Helen Keller

It is so easy to think that it is someone else’s job to make a difference. That someone else will step up.

Why not you? 

Why wait for someone else?

Get out there and do what you have seen needs to be done. If you can’t physically do it yourself raise awareness and encourage others to come together and do it. 

Life is amazing. Make sure you are living every moment. 

 That doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to have a pj day under a blanket watching Christmas films, of course you can. No-one can be on duty all the time, even heroes need a day off to recharge their batteries, but I implore you, stop and think about what you can do to make a positive impact on the world this year.

There is so much negativity in the world at the moment, lots of people despairing about decisions that are being made and the way things are being handled by those in power but we need to come together and create a movement of light and positivity. If we do then we are unbeatable. Are you ready to “be the change that you wish to see in the world”(Gandhi)?

If not now then when?

 Write down all the things you would like to change this year in your notebook or on your paper. Whether it is getting more fit, decorating your bedroom, sorting out your finances, maybe volunteering for a local good cause, whatever it is you want to change, write it down and commit to it now!

As another decade passes and I am reminded how much my life has changed, I can only imagine what the next decade will bring.  Honestly, I don’t like looking too far forward. I’m very much a “live in the moment” person. Just knowing that my children will be adults and I will be in my fifties makes me realise that I don’t have time to mess about. This year I am going to make big changes so that I am firmly on the right track for the rest of the decade and I cannot recommend enough that you do too.

ADVANCE – a review

It finally arrived! We finally “ADVANCE”-d in Telford last Monday. After almost two years of planning and dreaming how this event would happen; where, when, what we would cover, it all came together beautifully.

If you have ever organised an event of this scale you will completely understand the amount of work involved in getting something like this from conception to birth but we are all on such a high because it was AMAZING!

Our incredible attendees travelled for hours, stayed over in hotels and had very long days in order to be able to join us but I know from their feedback that they are so glad they did. I think everyone is still buzzing a week on from the incredible energy in the room. We laughed, cried and shifted some big issues together… oh and also ate the best chocolate tart I think I have ever eaten (yes I know I’m not supposed to eat chocolate tart but it was my reward!).

 

We always knew that the day would be powerful (that’s power full – thank you Taz for reminding me of the difference), but I think because we each use our techniques and strategies every day and have done for years we forget the impact that they have when you first discover them.

It’s an interesting thing isn’t it knowledge?

We somehow assume that everyone has the same understanding, the same interpretation, the same talents we do. The more naturally we do something, the more it is part of our life, the more we take it for granted that “everyone does/knows that”.

So often it isn’t true.

There were some really significant light bulb moments for many of the attendees, including us! Yes, we were as excited about the event as anyone. We have known each other for years, we have attended each other’s talks and events, but we know from experience that even when we plan what we are each going to cover that there are always little alleyways from the main path, and without exception there is always a take away from these little meanderings.

Thank you!

We had so much fun and despite the stress of organising such a big event everything went pretty much without issue. This was in part due to my amazing husband, Ian, who stepped in and saved the day several times by correcting issues we were left with my the PA provider (thank goodness he had brought his sound engineer head as well as his videographer head!). Ian you are a star, thank you for all your help with the promotional videos and for coming along and filming the day for us.

An extra special “thank you” also needs to go to Asha Thornton-Clearwater, Taz’s wife, who was incredible introducing the day with style and grace, and she helped us so much with publicising the event. Thanks Asha, I don’t know where we’d be without you on Team ADVANCE.

We would also like to thank Telford Couriers who stepped in and saved the day but delivering the additional food we bought to a local homeless shelter Maninplace. When we originally planned the day we booked it for October but for personal reasons we had to move it later in the year and we knew that that would have an impact on attendance because we were getting so close to Christmas. Because we had booked for larger numbers we still had to pay for the food for the additional number, so we asked the hotel to make that food into packed lunches and Martin from Telford Couriers very kindly offered to collect the food and deliver it for us. Thank you Martin, you are a star.

The biggest thank you of the day has to go to the attendees though. Thank you for coming along, for believing in the power of three and for trusting us enough to be open and vulnerable. You are amazing and I can’t wait to watch your journey now.

It was a truly incredible day, Jo talked about how to stay calm and make sure you clean your wellies. Then I talked about staying calm like a Jedi, Taz showed us how to Unleash our Awesome and then we ended the day with one of my favourite extreme empowerment exercises… a glass walk!

All in all it was a powerful and life changing day.

Do you want to know more and make sure that you are first to find out about the three events we are already planning for 2019? Check out my ADVANCE page or sign up for my newsletter these are going to be such popular events and we’ve learned even more about how we want to make the day MORE powerful and MORE impactful. We are always striving for better and this is going to grow and grow.

Thanksgiving – a celebration for the World

Depending upon where you are when you are reading this the word “Thanksgiving” will have very different associations. 

If you are in the US you are no doubt in full flow with your preparations for Thursday; the pumpkin pies will be baking and the turkey defrosting as I type.

If though, you are elsewhere in the world, you probably see Thanksgiving as a purely American celebration, after all, what relevance does it have to you in your house in the south of France?

Well, perhaps more than you might think. Let me give you my take on this day and see if I can convince you of its relevance for everyone. 

 

What is the history of Thanksgiving?

 Well, it is fundamentally a Harvest festival. A celebration of all the food nature has provided to help us get through the cold winter months. Most cultures and religions have a variation on this festival. It is a very primitive need to be appreciative of the food we have to nourish us and of course that is much more scarce or non-existent during the winter months. So we say thank you to whatever higher power we believe in for providing for our family through those dark and cold days.

The festival celebrated in the US takes its origins from the pilgrims who landed in Plymouth in the early 17th Century and the first meal they had with the Native Americans. Families decorate the home, cook a wonderful meal and bake seasonal goodies such as pumpkin pie and minced pies.

More importantly though, families take time to think about what they are grateful for. School children do lots of work in the lead up to Thanksgiving about gratitude and often perform random acts of kindness. Families often sit round the table and each share what they are thankful for before tucking into a feast of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce… yum!

Sounds like a Christmas dinner to me, as a Brit, I would definitely be feeling grateful for such a delicious meal with all my family around me!

The meal may be very similar to a traditional Christmas meal but the rest of the day is very different. In many families now Christmas has become all about indulgence and presents. We often forget to be grateful for all the wonderful things we have, that we are with our loved ones, that we have food during the coldest, bleakest time of year. 

“Thanksgiving day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude”

E P Powell

In a world where consumerism and waste seems to dominate, let’s appreciate this celebration of gratitude and family. Let’s all take time to eat together, to feel truly thankful that we have food to eat, a warm home and people who love us. Take the time to think of those who do not have all the amazing things we have. Perhaps consider doing a reverse advent calendar for a local food bank or taking a donation to a homeless shelter. Just check on an elderly relative. Think of others and help someone else feel really cared for.

That is what Thanksgiving is all about, for me anyway. What does it mean to you?

 

Under Pressure – a life with Queen

I was 5 years old when I first remember being aware of Queen. Sitting on my bunk bed with the window open with my sister and my Dad listening to the playing Elland Road in Leeds. I grew up in a village just outside Leeds and we could not only hear them playing from our bedroom we could see the lights shining at Elland Road.

It really was a Kind of Magic (did you see what I did there?).

It was a real treat because we should definitely have been asleep but it was so exciting listening to this amazing music flying through the air from this mythical place just two and a half miles away. Of course I had no idea what Elland Road was, I wasn’t 100% sure who Queen were if I’m honest, but that moment started a life long love of this amazing band.

Fast forward a few years and I was hooked.

When Freddie Mercury died in November 1991. I was 15 years old. Just starting my GCSEs. I had been listening to Queen for a few years by this time. Of course buying records was expensive (I was just transitioning to CDs!) but I was lucky because my friends Dan and Simon were fans too so we used to record each others onto a tape so we had pretty much all their back catalogue between us.

I bought every newspaper, all the tribute magazines, had the posters on my wall and grieved as though he was a family member.

I loved everything about Queen. I’ve always loved rock music, but I loved the theatre that Freddie Mercury added. I loved that they laughed at themselves.

I’m sure you must be wondering why on earth I am going on about my favourite band by now. Well, there are a few reasons.

Not least the fact that the new film “Bohemian Rhapsody” is released this week.

It’s more than that though.

This film got me thinking. I can remember listening to Queen when I was a little girl. Listening to their music was a huge influence on my teenage years. Years later they were one of the first things I bonded with my father in law over. I can’t remember a time without Queen in my life.

Of course I never saw the original line up live. Their last tour with Freddie Mercury was in 1986, I was 10 years old. In those days concerts weren’t family environments.

A few years ago though I watched the film Bucket List, with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It got me thinking about what things I would put on my bucket list.  

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, a bucket list is basically a list of all the things you want to achieve in your life. I realised that there were very few things I felt passionately about achieving, very few places I felt I had to visit.

But I attempted to write a list with a few things I wanted to achieve, places to go, things to do, before I die. 

  1. Write a book.
  2. Go to Italy.
  3. See Queen in concert.

I suddenly realised that not having seen Queen live was a big deal for me. I really regretted that I hadn’t had that chance.

Then they announced that they were touring with Paul Rodgers.

It wasn’t perfect but it was better than nothing. Unfortunately the timing was all wrong. They toured from 2004-09. My daughter was born in 2004, I was diagnosed with acromegaly in 2007 and my son was born in 2009. They were busy and exhausting years.

Going to concerts was not high on my list of things to do.

Then a miracle happened in the form of Adam Lambert.

 

Adam Lambert is the son Freddie never had, in my opinion. My amazing hubby got me tickets to go see them live for my Christmas present and we went to Birmingham on 23rd January 2015.

It was a dream come true. I have had a wonderful life. I have been fortunate enough to meet and even work with many famous people along the way. Never have I been star struck (well maybe a little with Alan Rickman but mostly I’m pretty cool!) they are just people like us.

Queen was a very different matter. When Brian May walked out onto the stage I cried. I don’t mean I had a tear in my eye, I mean properly cried. 

It was one of the most amazing nights of my life.

Why am I telling you this though?

Well, obviously I think you should all go out and watch the new film, if you are interested, but that’s not the reason.

What I really want you to do is to stop and think about all the things that you really want to do with your life.

There is definitely something significant about the music you connect to in your teenage years. I don’t think we ever connect with music in quite the same way at any other time in our lives.

What music has really impacted on your life? 

Have you been fortunate enough to see your favourite band playing live?

I just want you to think about what makes you happy.

Write your Bucket List.

Don’t overthink it.

If it pops into your head, write it down.

You might be surprised at some of the things that come up.

You might not appreciate how much those things mean to you until you actually get to tick it off either. I certainly didn’t.

Live your very best life, whether it is using your best perfume, going to the theatre more, travelling the globe, eating in fancy restaurants.

Whatever makes you happy, if you possibly can do it, then do it!

 

**UPDATE 24th October 2017**

I had to hop back on to give you an little update. This morning my husband and I bunked off and went to see “Bohemian Rhapsody”. I had a meeting cancel at last minute so I suddenly had a timely free day. I knew I would love it. I knew it would be an education. I have always loved the music and performance Queen created but I have never really looked into much of their private lives or behind the scenes elements. I was not expecting to laugh and cry. If you are a fan of the band, if you like music, if you are a human, you must see this film.

Every so often I go to the cinema or the theatre and completely lose where I am. It doesn’t happen often. If happens when I see Les Miserables at the theatre, it happens when I see War of the Worlds tours and it happened today in the cinema.

I didn’t want the film to end and I cried as it did. Now I know I have something of a history of crying at Queen but I really wasn’t expecting to cry at this film. It really is exceptional. I feel I have to give a special mention to Gwilym Lee who plays Brian May too. His performance was breathtaking. I have always been a big fan of Brian May and thought he would be hard to replace but it’s so evident that they worked incredibly closely together to ensure the portrayal was spookily accurate.

Huge congratulations to everyone involved in the film though, it was a triumph!

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